Media Matters has published an analysis of “guest appearances in 2015 on five Sunday morning political talk shows that often set the media and political agenda for the week: ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, CBS’ Face the Nation with John Dickerson, Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, NBC’s Meet the Press with Chuck Todd, and CNN’s State of the Union with Jake Tapper.”
What they found, for the third year running, is that the guests on these shows “were once again overwhelmingly white, conservative, and male in every category measured.”
The lack of diversity is problematic at any time, given that these guests are asked to analyze and comment on politics of a multicultural representative democracy. To fail so comprehensively to include a diversity of viewpoints, from both identity and ideological perspectives, is not only shameful but a dereliction of duty from a media that purports to be objective.
During an election season, this failure is even more pronounced—no less in an election when many of the most contentious issues center around race and gender. It is entirely inappropriate to exclude people of color, immigrants, women, and queer folks from visible platforms that drive the national conversation, especially when the national conversation is focused on policy that primary effects the lives of people from those marginalized populations.
As we move forward toward the general election, this habitual exclusion of diverse voices takes on even greater import.
With Donald Trump as the presumptive Republican nominee, the general population needs opinion-makers who take seriously the extremist nature of his campaign. The tendency for white, conservative, male members of the chattering class to treat Trump as a fine bit of entertainment, as opposed to a dangerous demagogue whose very rhetoric is harmful for the people targeted by it, is insufficiently sensitive, to put it politely.
It is long past time where we should be obliged to watch an all-white panel of guests discussing “the black vote,” or an all-male panel of guests discuss “the female vote,” casually monolithizing entire populations of people in a space devoid of representatives—whose very presence might undermine the sweeping generalizations that characterize these vapid exercises in turning the stuff of marginalized people’s lives into abstract debates.
And it is long past time that we should be able to elect, or not elect, a female candidate on the merits, without the constant injection of sexist tropes masquerading as valid critique.
Those of us who aren’t white, conservative men are tired of criticizing the lack of inclusion—and the lack of thoughtful, intersectional analysis—from the sidelines. We deserve to be on the field, mucking about in the dirt, and, frankly, elevating the game.
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)